In Case You Missed It: Weekly Hockey and Soccer Franchise Report

by Dan Krieger
October 14, 2016 - ECHL (ECHL)

HOCKEY

ECHL: The proposed relocation of the ECHL's former Evansville IceMen team to Owensboro (KY) for the 2017-18 season will not move forward. After getting into an arena lease dispute in Evansville during the 2015-16 season, the IceMen ownership announced plans to move the team to Owensboro. The team decided to sit out the 2016-17 season and move into a proposed new arena in Owensboro starting with the 2017-18 season. The city of Owensboro objected to the cost of the new arena and plans fell through. The IceMen ownership had the option to renovate the older 5,000-seat Owensboro Sportscenter, but recently decided to drop those plans and the team's future is uncertain. At least two markets - Portland (ME) and Prescott Valley (AZ) - have expressed interest in obtaining an ECHL team.

Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League: A previously announced new team called the Breckenridge Bears in USA Hockey's Tier-III junior-level RMJHL has been dropped from the league's 2016-17 schedule. The RMJHL played its inaugural 2015-16 season with six teams and a first-season team called the Breckenridge Bucks decided to leave for the Western States Hockey League. The WSHL team then relocated to become the Vail (CO) Powder Hounds and the RMJHL's Breckenridge Bears were announced. The RMJHL also added another new team called the Steamboat (CO) Wranglers for 2016-17, while a first-season team called the Glacier Yetis (Grand Junction, CO) decided to sit out the 2016-17 season. With the loss of Breckenridge and Glacier and the addition of Steamboat, the league is at five teams for 2016-17.

American Hockey League: Officials in Thunder Bay (Ontario) are still trying to build a new arena that could become home to an AHL team. The National Hockey League's Winnipeg Jets have expressed interest in possibly placing its AHL affiliate, the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Moose, in Thunder Bay if a new arena is built.

SOCCER

United Soccer League: Due to the frustration with delays in the Miami-based Major League Soccer franchise getting off the ground, an individual in Palm Beach County wants to organize a following for a proposed lower-level USL team called Gold Coast Inter and eventually have interest in that team lead to the development of an MLS team called Inter Miami. The current Miami MLS expansion effort headed by former player David Beckham has been having trouble building a soccer-specific stadium that is required for its admission to the league. The organizer of the Gold Coast Inter recently presented the idea of the USL team to the Beckham group, which controls the rights to a USL team in South Florida.

North American Soccer League: The Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the Division-II NASL have been having financial difficulties and asked for assistance from the league. Late last month, an ownership group that also includes the FC Miami City of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League expressed interest in a possible purchase of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers club. The NASL expansion club called the San Francisco Deltas has confirmed it will start play next season. Other California-based teams in San Diego and Los Angeles are working to join the NASL in the next couple of years.

OTHER

National Pro Fastpitch: The Dallas Charge of the women's NPF announced plans to move to a yet-to-be-named location in Central Texas where the team will be renamed the Texas Charge. The Dallas Charge joined the league for the 2015 season and played the past two seasons in McKinney (TX). The team was forced to find a new home venue and could not find one in the Dallas area, so it is moving to Central Texas.

Dan Krieger is the creator of the Leagues, Teams & Nicknames 2015-16: "The Leagueology Almanac" , which tracks the changes in league alignments, franchise movements and team nicknames in today's sports world. The publication is available for sale at www.amazon.com.


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